Album Title: The Grand Tormentor
The Grand Tormentor is slower and more straightforward than Beheaded Ouroboros was, but nothing's been lost: if anything, this record is even heavier than the last. Insane amounts of low-end nearly bury the vocals and drums, rendering everything into a cylinder of pressure which seems to press down upon the listener as the record goes on. Recognizable riffs and frantic solos break the surface throughout, making the record surprisingly catchy, and repeat listens will reveal even more detail. The band knows how to blast now and again, too; "Meditation for Sacrifice" combines headbanging breaks with tank-like rumbling and doom sections which have to be heard to be believed.
It's that sense of balance which elevates this over most doom/death records. The Grand Tormentor is just slow enough -- "Into the Arms of Yama" and "The Tomb" are perfect pits of sludge which recall the best of Disciples of Mockery -- and it's also fierce enough, with tracks like "Tandava" and "Wasteland of Thataka" providing a non-stop barrage of riffs. In between are tracks which combine the best of both, mixing them with swaggering mid-paced parts. "Cast Into Fire" is a great example, packed with nimble start-and-stop riffing and some impressive drum fills. Then there's "Funeral Lotus", a ten-minute epic of oppressive, ponderous weight. Witchrist slows things down to a crawl here, allowing vomitous vocals and crashing cymbals to take center stage. The pace increases to a gallop, then drops off into an extended, memorable theme which rolls its way to the end, crushing everything in its path. Then, if you're anything like me, you obey the dictates of the circular intro/outro and start over with "Into the Arms of Yama"...
The Grand Tormentor is a strong contender for record of the year, and is sure to convince many of those who missed out on Beheaded Ouroboros. If you like slow, blackened death metal, you must hear this record. Highest recommendations.
Standout Tracks: "Into the Arms of Yama", "Meditation for Sacrifice", "The Tomb", "Funeral Lotus"